ZWC19 Keynote Harald Friedl has a sobering message, straight from one of Europe’s leading Circular Economy think-tanks.
Circle Economy, based in Amsterdam, is a social enterprise at the center of European’s fast-evolving Circular Economy. They work to support individuals, companies and organisations through the development of practical and scalable solutions and campaigns.
Recently, they’ve made international headlines with their 2019 Circularity Gap Report, released at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It sounds the alarm that the three most threatening environmental challenges – the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and diminishing resources – are not being addressed fast enough. But a more rapid uptake of the circular economy provides a way out of this situation.
The Circularity Gap Report 2019 found that only 9% of the 92.8 billion tonnes of minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass that enter the economy are re-used annually.
This is simply not good enough, according to Circle Economy’s CEO Harald Friedl, who sees the Circular Economy as essential if we are to tip the balance in battle against climate change.
The report notes that most governments barely consider circular economy measures in their policies aimed at meeting the UN target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by mid-century. According to Harald Friedl:
“A 1.5 degree world can only be a circular world. Recycling, greater resource efficiency and circular business models offer huge scope to reduce emissions. A systemic approach to applying these strategies would tip the balance in the battle against global warming.
“Governments’ climate change strategies have focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency and avoiding deforestation but they have overlooked the vast potential of the circular economy.
They should re-engineer supply chains all the way back to the wells, fields, mines and quarries where our resources originate so that we consume fewer raw materials. This will not only reduce emissions but also boost growth by making economies more efficient.”
The report calls on governments to take action to move from a linear “Take-Make-Waste” economy to a Circular Economy that maximizes the use of existing assets, while reducing dependence on new raw materials and minimizing waste.
It argues that innovation to extend the lifespan of existing resources will not only curb emissions but also reduce social inequality and foster low-carbon growth.
Of particular note is the report’s focus on the built environment – Circle Economy calculates that nearly half of all materials going into the economy – 42.4 billion tonnes a year – are used in the construction and maintenance of houses, offices, roads and infrastructure.
“It’s crucial that we work with emerging economies to avoid mistakes made in the past. Now is the time to replace traditional building methods with state-of-the-art practices which will not lock in high emissions for decades to come. Countries will make maximum impact by designing not just homes, buildings and infrastructure but whole cities for maximum resource efficiency.”
We are honoured to have Circle Economy’s CEO Harald Friedl as a keynote speaker at the 2019 Zero Waste Conference, and invite you to learn first-hand from the practical real-world experience of the European Circular Economy community.
Whether you’re totally new to the concept or an industry veteran, the Zero Waste Conference strikes a balance between theory and action.
The 2019 Zero Waste Conference is your guide to the people, ideas and actions that are having the biggest impact.
Stay tuned to the ZWC Blog for conference updates as new speakers are announced.
2019 Zero Waste Conference:
Mobilizing for Success in the Circular Economy
October 30 – 31, 2019
Vancouver Convention Centre (999 Canada Place)